Bragging Rights

Just some things anglers casually brag about

Anglers are a proud breed of people. We enjoy putting in those endless hours to catch a fish that gives us grief—an otherwise twisted outlook for non-anglers. Those slogging hot or cold days, the scars, sun burns, hard work, and effort that go into our endeavours aren't just conversation points—they're rites of passage—and we deserve to discreetly brag about every single one of them. 

Every angler wants you to know what they're doing is hardcore, but wants you to come to that conclusion on your own—we won't just up and say it. That would be just plain boastful! Here are some ways we casually tell you how hardcore we think we are...

Sunglasses Tan

Ah yes, racoon eyes. This is the bandit shaped symbol of a die-hard and we'll take every opportunity to draw attention to it. On the water, the sunglasses-tan-bearer will refuse to remove their shades until they are, in fact, in the shade. If a fish has been caught, you may catch the rare glimpse of a wild-eyed angler as they are exposed to sunlight for a photo-op. 

T.J. Raytrowsky
with a northern Ontario pike! Photo: Alicia Raytrowsky 

But don't let the small window of removal fool you. These shade bearing tributes will remain guarded until the lights on the boat are legally required. Only then will you realize the true glow of their untouched white perimeters. 

Hat Tan 

There are a fair few who are worthy of this mark of angling honour. 

Boat Hair 

Tournament angler Alicia Raytrowsky holds up a smallie with pride, note the sunglasses kept in place. 

One for the ladies, and the fellas with the luscious locks. The tangled small pieces in the front, or the matted hair in back,—in other words, the uni-dread. The tell-tale sign this woman wears a baseball cap at all times. Her hair has speedboat written all over it. She's in the category with the fair few that wear the mark of the hat tan. Be humbled by their presence. 

Hooks in Flesh 

Not all battle scars are visible two weeks later, but we'll be sure to tell you about them. 

Okay, so these scars may still be visible now. Gnarly hook wounds from Karly Jude. 

Lightweight gear for big fish  

"I caught that on 6-pound test!" 

What we're saying is: it was a surprise species and we didn't actually intend on catching that particular fish. But, we caught it, and because we're so skilled we did so on light line and an even lighter rod and reel. 

Equipment Malfunction 

"I had to hand-reel it in!" 

Bass Thumb

We rock the scaly, dead-skin pieces that cling onto our thumbs with pride. These calluses turned sand paper shreds—resembling paper towel bits from trying to remove a stain too feverishly—are the first thing we hold up in social circles. 

If you give too many casual thumbs up on a certain day, you're not being discreet enough. Dial it back by holding your significant others hands until they comment on how gnarly your skin feels, then joyfully say, "oh sorry, that's just because of all the bass I had to unhook today." 

Smallest Fish 

In some angling circles, the person who caught the smallest fish doesn't have to buy dinner. So really, this is a rare opportunity where our egos deflate, while still being able to gloat. 

The author, with the smallest crappie of the day. Photo: Aaron Jolicoeur

Being Bitten By a Fish 

Mistakes can be made, or a fish can put up a fight that ends with having their teeth, or their tooth-lined gill plates, slicing your skin. An eye for an eye—they bit our lure, now they're biting back. Typically, that gives us anglers a tremendous surge of respect for the fish we're handling and it gets put back where it belongs. Or sometimes it's, "that sucker bit me, it's shore lunch."

This clearly varies depending on the angler. 

How miserable it Was 

Sherry Tomporowski-Dixon at a pike tournament where it poured rain until the very end of the event. 

This one is fairly self-explanatory. The moment the words leave your mouth about how "bloody miserable" it was, the sane person you're speaking with will ask why you didn't just call it a day.

To which you're appalled! A miserable day on the water is 100 times better than a miserable day literally anywhere else. Plus there are fish to be caught—second to lightning, there will be nothing that holds you back. 

I'm just as guilty as the next angler when it comes to casually bragging about how hardcore my adventure was, while not actually saying it. From my wildfire run-ins, to freezing temperatures, and all the times I hooked myself in high winds while fly fishing for muskie... See what I mean? Guilty. 

About Alyssa Lloyd

Alyssa Lloyd is a photojournalist based out of Kenora working with Ontario's Sunset Country. The outdoors has been the center of her work and personal life for as long as she can remember. As an angler, Alyssa spends most of her time time chasing multiple species on both conventional and fly gear. 

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